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Old 12-29-2011, 09:47 AM
Martin Hyde Martin Hyde is offline
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 14,057
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
It was my understanding that the police were well trained in tricking and intimidating people out of using their 4th and 5th amendment rights. I believe judges and prosecutors use tricks to stop people from using their 6th amendment rights (if you want a trial, you are going to get a more severe penalty, etc). It is a messed up situation IMO. One of the few times intimidation and trickery can be used to deny people their rights.

I don't know if lying and saying you have a warrant would be legal though. However if the cops says it then lies about having never said it later, it is the cops word against a civilian in court.
I don't know that prosecutors are really tricking people out of their right to a trial by jury. But by the time a criminal defendant is at a point of formally having to decide how they are going to plea they will typically have legal counsel. They may have already confessed to law enforcement prior to asking for counsel (because many criminals are stupid), in those scenarios unless their public defender can find some reason to throw out the confession or something I'd imagine the PD's primary role is going to be to negotiate the best possible plea agreement.

Prosecutor's have case loads to the ceiling, so for most criminals if you plea they will be willing to cut you a deal on the sentencing, sometimes even lowering the charge. This happens even with small stuff...I've known people who had DUIs and were dead to rights on the charge, but retained counsel and got it negotiated down to reckless driving. Or if they had to plead to a DUI they got the minimum penalty.

From the perspective of a defendant it's a scary thing to have to decide to go to trial versus plea out. Unless you've committed a capital crime or something really serious, most crimes you can plea out such that you'll get out eventually. It might be 10 years or 15 years for a really bad crime, but most of them you can plea to something where you can be out of jail in under 10 years assuming you get paroled and have good behavior in prison.

But if you go to trial and lose? Well, then the prosecutor is going to let you be sentenced and that will almost always mean you get whatever statute says you should get. In sentencing judges/juries may show some leniency, but they're going to sentence you based on the crime you were convicted of--whereas a prosecutor can actually have you plea out to a lesser crime with a whole lesser sentencing range. It's almost a game theory sort of thing, you can roll the dice on a trial (which prosecutors overwhelmingly win), or you can plea out in exchange for knowing what your punishment is going to be and that punishment being less than the worst outcome of a trial would be.

I've read that more than 50% of criminal defendants, by the time they first talk with legal counsel, have already confessed their crime to law enforcement (and will have waived their right to silence and counsel in a signed statement), so the vast majority of people getting ready to be tried for a crime are already fucked three ways til Sunday so it's really not the prosecutor tricking them to their detriment. In reality the prosecutor offering a deal to them is beneficial to the State (keeps cases clearing faster) and the defendant (gets them a reduced sentence.)